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Archive: Unearthing the Metal Underground Columns

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Static Abyss

For this weekly column, I typically like to dig into the underground for either undiscovered, new talent or bands that have been around but have remained under the radar in spite of their high-caliber music. Once in a while, however, I’ll spotlight familiar underground faces who have congealed into formidable new entities. Case in point: A couple of members of the pioneering death metal beast Autopsy have banded together to create Static Abyss, a paradoxically primal and majestic expression of death/doom metal. Peaceville Records will release their debut album, “Labyrinth of Veins,” tomorrow on multiple formats. More...

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Unearthing Tales of a Therion

We have recently enjoyed countless YouTube videos of “supergroup” styled lineups performing one-off cover songs since bands have recently been hindered in many ways due to the pandemic. Guitarist Scott Sargeant (Laaz Rockit, Skinlab, M.O.D.) considered doing the same with friends he’s known throughout his years of touring, but he wanted to take a slightly different path with Tales of a Therion. Instead of performing adored cover songs, Scott wanted to write an original song—presented via the horror-flick inspired video below—that would pay tribute to a band that made an impression upon him during his formative years: Celtic Frost. Accordingly, Scott paired up with Jörgen Sandström, whose resume includes Grave, Entombed and The Project Hate MCMXCIX, to write the song “This Means You Die!” More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Hallas

Sweden has had an abundance of artists who bow at the altar of metal and classic rock’s “roots bands,” if you will. While they’ve been grinding the axe for 20 years and some change, Witchcraft, for instance, has been worshipping classic bands of the sixties and seventies. And, of course, acts like Candlemass and Count Raven have been fundamental with regard to the establishment of doom metal in the eighties. More recently—since 2011, to be specific—Hallas has been making waves with its cross-pollination of proto-metal, seventies-based hard rock, psychedelic rock and folk. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Mosaic

Germany’s Mosaic has been making noise since 2005, and their earliest releases, including the stunning debut full-length “Old Man’s Wyntar,” represented a black metal band that wasn’t afraid to be bold and step outside of the lines of convention. Yes, it was primitive and bleak—adequately captured by a cold production aesthetic. And yet there were beautiful melodies and epic elements that were film score-like in nature. They’ve continued upon their own path through several releases including their significantly more experimental sophomore album, “Secret Ambrosian Fire,” that was released in 2019. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Morbid Cruelty

Raw, primitive dark metal has been exploding in South America since the early days of Pentagram, Sepultura, Sarcofago and Mortem. Chile’s Morbid Cruelty is a newer act that’s comprised of two members who have been active with bands like Atomic Aggressor, Evil Madness, Perversor and Valefar. The unit initially banded together in 2018, releasing a desirably unrefined cassette demo a year later. They digitally released their debut album, “Holodomor,” last August; and now the renowned German extreme metal label is poised to properly shine a light upon the spirited duo by releasing a vinyl version of said debut on April 8. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Necrom

Ukraine is currently plastered across all forms of media at the moment because of the Russian invasion. Beyond the immediate human suffering, the lasting geopolitical consequences are and will be profound and seemingly immeasurable. Germane to our world of heavy metal, however, the Ukrainian metal scene has long been vibrant, prominently inclined toward the darker side of things. Nocturnal Mortum is one of the more notable names, and some of that black metal band’s current and former members are involved with Necrom, a relatively newer death metal band that guzzles from the goblet of classic European death metal line in the vein of Asphyx, Entombed and Carnage. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Intolerance

While the disturbing sounds may be appealing to death metal fiends the world over, and it’s good to see the abundance of bands paying homage to the classic eighties and nineties era of death metal, the adoration has led to a noticeable over-saturation of the scene. Spain’s Intolerance, very intentionally, is not here to re-invent the wheel of death metal. But the Spaniards stand apart because of their straight-forward songwriting and jam-room feel. They’ve released a demo and a thoroughly enjoyable EP since their inception in 2015, and they’re finally about to unleash their debut full-length. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Pestilength

Not to be confused with the classic death metal band Pestilence, an obscure, burly and otherworldly act known as Pestilength has been vomiting its cacophonous sounds since 2018 from the Basque region of Europe. The act has been quite prolific in spite of its short span of existence, having released various singles and EPs, in addition to a demo, a split and the fantastic debut “Eilatik” in 2020. The anonymous duo, operating under the pseudonyms “N.” and “M,” are set to release their sophomore full-length, “Basom Gryphos,” on March 7 via Nuclear Winter Records on CD. The label will co-release the vinyl version with Sentient Ruin, the tape version with Goat Throne. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Mortify

Latin America is fertile ground for extremely dark death and black metal. Is it the notorious, perpetual corrupt politics or the prominent pockets of impoverishment? Whatever the case may be, places like Mexico, central America and South America provide the perfect soil from which the most dank metal grows. Chile will forever be linked in this regard because of the absolutely legendary act Pentagram (not be confused with the Maryland-based doom band), but there are some younger upstarts, including Mortify, who are producing some fantastic death metal that pulls from classic, late eighties and early nineties artists. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Malefic Throne

The trio behind Malefic Throne don’t need a lengthy introduction if you’re a longtime aficionado of death metal. Guitarist Gene Palubicki (Perdition Temple, Blasphemic Cruelty) converged with drummer John Longstreth (Origin, Hate Eternal)—both of whom performed together with Angelcorpse—as well as vocalist/bassist Steve Tucker of Morbid Angel and Warfather. The legendary musicians are poised to release an utterly savage, self-titled EP via Hells Headbangers on January 28 on CD and tape. A vinyl version will be released later this year. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Rope Sect

Iron Bonehead is typically known for the considerably scathing black and war metal bands on its roster. Standing apart from the bulk of the savagery on said label, however, is Rope Sect. The relatively new German project released its debut EP, “Personae Ingratae,” in 2017, and they’re mostly known for their awesome debut album “The Great Flood” which was released last year. The dark, slick ’n somber death rock entity returns now with its new EP, “Proskynesis,” an effort that follows Rope Sect’s trajectory of art that’s quite simply cool as hell, music that’s appropriate for the soundtracks of cutting-edge, indie cinematography. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Crawl Below

One-man black metal projects can mean many things, and in the case of New England’s Crawl Below, sole member “Charlie Sad Eyes” offers a plethora of styles and approaches under the umbrella of this entity. Blackened punk defined the debut full-length, “Welcome the Possession,” while subsequent full-lengths and a covers EP have scraped across a broad cross-section of styles including Lovecraftian-themed pub songs and doom gaze. Surely to the dismay of black metal purists, he even tackled the classic metallic hardcore band Hatebreed on a cover of “Filth,” a song that works surprisingly well - save for the out-of-place breakdown portions. In any event, Crawl Below returns with a new full-length, “Its Ministers on Earth,” a black/death doom offering that’s unsettling and yet certainly quite satisfying. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Malignant Altar

Houston and its surrounding area has been a goldmine of extreme music for decades. Houstonian soil has given birth to thrash metal icons DRI, demonic death metal legends Imprecation, and the battle-ready grindcore outfit PLF, to mention but a few. A newer name making waves in the underground is Malignant Altar, a considerably thick and heavy brutal death metal band that sucks insatiably from the sap of classic American death metal. With two well-received demos under its belt since forming in 2018 (their rendition of Celtic Frost’s “Procreation of the Wicked” from the “Ceremonial Decapitator” demo is a special treat), the quintet is poised to release it’s debut album, “Realms of Exquisite Morbidity,” on December 10, 2021, via the revered label Dark Descent Records. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Nullification

As previously mentioned in this column, the metal maniacs of the Philippines are amongst the most fanatical on Earth. A new Filipino band by the name of Nullification has emerged this year that plumbs the depths of early nineties death metal glory. One Jayson Gonzales formed the band in his stomping grounds of Bay, Laguna, having written the core material for the project’s debut album prior to enlisting the members of Desolator and Formless Oedon to flesh out the band. Giving new meaning to the concept of efficiency, Nullification is set to release said debut album, “Kingdoms to Hovel,” through Personal Records on January 14, 2022. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Morguiliath

Morguiliath has technically been a project since 2004, and they’ve participated in numerous concerts and performances. On the recording front, however, they’ve been anything but prolific, having unleashed only a couple of demos. And by they, I mean he. “Rats,” as he refers to himself, essentially handles everything musically, outside of some guest contributors. Fast forward to 2020, Morguiliath finally released a full length album, “Age of Misanthropia, Human Blood & Chaos,” and it was a solid one at that. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Caestus

You’ve probably seen a meme or two about Scandinavian and Nordic black metal bands getting lost in the woods while venturing out to take promo shots, striking the point that black metal is so ubiquitous in the region. Finland, specifically, is home to numerous and noticeably divergent high quality acts ranging from Beherit and Impaled Nazarene to Archgoat, Barathrum and Horna. Recently, new demonic blood has coagulated to form Caestus, a band that isn’t entirely original but one that stands out due to the fact that the members have clearly paid attention to good songwriting. Purity Through Fire is poised to release the act’s debut album, “The Undoer’s Key,” on December 12. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Sijjin

Death thrashers Sijjin have been cranking out their evil jams for just a couple of years, having released their impressive “Angel of the Eastern Gate” in 2019, around the time of their inception. Their music is timeless yet contemporary in appeal, savage and easily digestible with a no-frills, to-the-point approach. Sepulchral Voice Records was wise to link up with the promising band, and they’re poised to release the act’s debut album, “Sumerian Promises,” on November 21. The band and album clearly deserve the attention of acolytes devoted to evil death thrash metal. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Deber

Whether we are talking about the likes of bands as varied as Candlemass, Count Raven, Isole, or Witchcraft, there has been a rich history of doom metal in Sweden for decades. An impressive funeral doom act has recently blossomed from Swedish soil: Deber. While the band is new, its members have been around the block. The duo, operating under the ever-so-lovely pseudonyms “DIE” and “HCF,” have been involved in the Swedish dark metal scene for years with projects like Anguish, Ondskapt, Avksy, and Acolytes of Moros. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Outre-Tombe

Eastern Canada’s French province Quebec has been a hotbed of metal for decades, whether we are talking about the legendary prog-inclined thrashers of Voivod or the abrasive tech death of Cryptopsy and everything in between and beyond. Since 2010, Quebec City’s Outre-Tombe have been forwarding a classic form of death metal that many nowadays would incorrectly and hastily label as “Old School Death Metal,” or “OSDM.” The French Canadian band plays a form of death metal that is, quite simply, timeless. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Vortex of End

The blackened death metal beasts behind the corpse paint that call themselves Vortex of End have been hammering the nails into the flesh and cross since 2005. The unit has unleashed several releases since its inception, but tomorrow (on Friday, September, 24, 2021), Vortex of End will release its fourth full-length album, “Abhorrent Fervor,” via the incredibly revered black metal France-based label Osmose Productions. The savage release follows the band’s vile trajectory, but they’re instantly clear in their intent of being even more succinct, insane and brutal than they’ve been in the past. Simply put, “Abhorrent Fervor” is a maniacal display of black metal. More...

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